system failure at jse may have cost R100m

Tamlyn Stewart

Tamlyn Stewart

Technical problems forced the JSE to close for most of the day yesterday, frustrating brokers and investors who had hoped for a bumper day's trading.

JSE Chief Operating Officer Leanne Parsons said the closure - the second in less than two months - was due to a technical problem at the London Stock Exchange.

"We are not sure of the problem's cause. They operate our trading system out of London, so a problem like this will affect both markets," she said. "We are not sure when we will resume trading."

Brokers said the shutdown could have cost them R100 million.

The JSE stopped trading at about 10:24am yesterday and by late afternoon was still not up and running.

This is the second time the JSE has had to suspend trading within the space of two months.

Garth Mackenzie of BoE Private Clients said: "Obviously we can't trade, so we can't put any volumes through and we can't make any brokerage.

"It's just frustrating in that we can't trade while the rest of the world's markets are moving, and we can't capitalise on any of that at the moment.

"But everybody's in the same boat," Mackenzie added.

Lavan Gopaul of Cortex Securities said: "Our market opened in the plus, we expected a very high day and expected high volumes on the back of good corporate news. This has really thrown us off track.

"The timing today was very bad. It is a serious blow to profits that investors would have been able to bag.

"Banks and stockbrokers have been hurt by what would have been a good day's brokerage," he said.

Gopaul estimated that the JSE could have reached a high of R15 billion in value traded yesterday.

"And the stockbroking community could easily have made R100 million in brokerage turnover on the back of that value traded," Gopaul said.

He added that while technical problems of this nature were infrequent on the JSE he warned that if repeated days of no trade occurred, it could make investors "very despondent" in the short-term.

Gerhard Lampen, head of Sanlam iTrade, said brokers would definitely lose money after being unable to trade for most of the day. "For us as a company with online traders, it is a whole day's lost brokerage."

Mackenzie said that extending the trading hours into the evening was unlikely to help. The last time trade was suspended due to technical problems, on July 14, the JSE extended trading hours until 7pm.

"Between 5pm and 7pm we probably took three phone calls. The rest of the world keeps the same hours - it's just the brokers who stay in case a call comes through," Mackenzie said.

Lampen agreed: "Last time it helped zero, because we had no trades, and we had to keep staff here and then organise transport."